Healing Heartburn in Pregnancy
10. 12. 2017
There’s nothing like the anticipation of expecting a little bundle of joy. You have prepared the nursery, assembled the crib, and folded the tiny onesies and sleepers. Soft toys, rattles and pacifiers are neatly organized in baskets on shelves. The nesting instinct is strong — but so is that burn in your chest!
Heartburn is a common condition in pregnancy, but few women are prepared for the intensity and discomfort that it brings. The good news is that the sour, burning sensation of heartburn almost always subsides after the baby is born, but that day can seem very far away when you’re suffering. Before suggesting some natural remedies for heartburn, perhaps it will be helpful to explain why pregnant women experience heartburn symptoms.
As your baby grows, the organs in your abdomen shift to accommodate your temporary guest. Your stomach moves upward, and this often puts pressure on the muscle at the bottom of your esophagus known as the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). When working properly, the LES works as a valve which opens to allow food and liquid to enter the stomach and then closes to prevent the backflow of acid. Sustained pressure on the LES can weaken the valve and allow gastric juices to seep into the esophagus.
Although you probably cannot prevent heartburn completely, there are several lifestyle modifications that can reduce pressure on the LES (Source: Fit Pregnancy).
- Eat smaller meals more frequently. Instead of three meals per day, try six mini-meals that you can digest more quickly to avoid putting added pressure on the LES.
- Chew slowly. It is understandable to be ravenously hungry during pregnancy, but discipline yourself and chew your food thoroughly before swallowing. This will aid efficient digestion.
- Drink more fluids. Liquids move faster through the stomach, so focus on foods like soup, smoothies, apple sauce, kefir and protein shakes.
- No eating before bed. Going to bed on a full stomach can cause painful heartburn at night. Eat at least three hours before bedtime, and sleep on your left side.
- Elevate the head of your bed. Place a book or two under the two legs at the head of your bed. Stomach acid will have to work against gravity.
You may find that avoiding certain foods can reduce symptoms of heartburn. Common heartburn triggers include spicy foods, acidic foods, caffeine, fried foods, soft drinks, chocolate, peppermint and high-fat meats. Healing your heartburn may take some trial and error, but it is likely that one or more of these natural remedies will help relieve your symptoms. If nothing else, the delivery of your baby will be the best heartburn remedy of all!